Dame Colet– Project Description

With a population in excess of 250,000 people in a land area of only 8 square miles, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets is one of the most densely populated areas of Britain. Recognising the need to deliver affordable housing in the Borough, the council identified under-utilised sites from across its portfolio suitable for the provision of new housing, community facilities and mixed use developments.

The low-rise 1960s buildings of Dame Colet Court and Haileybury Youth Centre at the junction of Ben Jonson Road and Stepney High Street were identified as suitable for higher density redevelopment to meet local demand for more housing and improved amenities. The overall vision for the site was to provide a sustainable mixed-use development which responded to current conditions and future needs, with the overall aim of providing a high quality environment.

The first task for the design and build team was to conceive a design and achieve planning consent for a very ambitious schedule of accommodation on this small site. the result was a dense development with very high site coverage and a building line which directly abuts two busy roads and a pedestrian laneway.

Identifying the distinctive elements that contribute to the local character of Stepney was a fundamental starting point for the design of the sites. The residential development draws reference from the new Youth Centre and surrounding buildings. Local character also comprises a variety of design elements from the way in which streets interconnect, to how development blocks and buildings are arranged, along with the use of common building materials, visual containment, boundary treatments etc. These elements each assisted in designing a high quality environment incorporating best practice principals, using as a reference the core design texts of ‘Safer Places’ and ‘By Design’.

Dame Colet Residential

The residential project consisted of:-

  • 40 affordable rented homes comprising of a four storey new residential block
  • A mix of 1–4 bedroom units with private amenity space
  • The promotion of sustainability and reduction of energy consumption
  • 10% of homes designed to provide disabled access
  • A well designed structure with balconies to provide external spaces
  • A car free development except for disabled parking
  • Achievement of a CfSH Level 4 , with the inclusion of roof-top PV panels, contributing renewable energy to the scheme


The constraints imposed by site layout and building design called for particular care in planning and intensive ongoing management of the operations phase of the project, with particular attention paid to project phasing, logistics of deliveries and storage of materials. The proximity of the site to the 10th century St Dunstan’s Church and its surrounding conservation area made for a challenging planning process, up to and including the discharge of conditions, when the planning authority changed its stance on the previously proposed cladding and insisted upon a change of material at a very late stage. Having failed to achieve a result via documentary submissions, this challenge was eventually overcome by providing full-scale cladding mock-ups for the local planning officer and urban design officer to review and approve in person, on site.

The residential site was managed by a full time Project Manager and Site Manager, and site based Quantity Surveyor, with weekly attendance by Guildmore’s Head of Construction, Design Manager and Health and Safety Manager.

Having reached the end of the defects rectification period on this project, (handover September 2015) end-user satisfaction for the 40 affordable-rent flats is demonstrated in the low level of call-backs and defects requiring rectification during that period.

Guildmore is committed to employing local youth on apprenticeship schemes, and using local companies throughout the design and construction of the development, where possible. We also took an active part in local enterprise and employment initiatives.

We at Guildmore have significant experience in working in partnership with Local Authorities on large construction projects and delivering a comprehensive service. We work in collaboration with our partners ensuring open communication lines throughout the project, working together to achieve a common aim.

Our diverse range of developments represent innovative design and environmentally responsible construction. We set standards for best practice in sustainable, ethical building design, construction and operation and we have achieved accreditations to: The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), ISO:9001,. 14001 & 18001, as well as the Waste & Resource Action Programme (WRAP).


Dame Colet Court

At Dame Colet Court Residential, we are providing:

  • 40 Council rented homes
  • Built across four floors
  • Built to Lifetime Homes standard